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History of St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Columban churches


SAINT ALOYSIUS PARISH

(Last update: August 2008)

INTRODUCTION

As you enter Saint-Aloysius church on Abbe Murray street in Gatineau, you enter into not only the centre of spiritual life for the English speaking catholic population of Gatineau but you enter the hearts and dreams of people who have worked so tirelessly to make this parish a reality. Some of those people are still active participants in our parish and it is to them that we have to say a special "thank you", for in realizing this dream of a parish they have provided all that follow a focal point for not only our souls but for our minds and hearts as well. The parishioners of Saint Aloysius have continued throughout their long history to establish a warm and inviting atmosphere for all who enter.

PARISH MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of our parish is to provide a welcoming community where Christians may belong confidently, celebrate meaningfully; where they may grow in faith, reach out in service and go forth to build the kingdom of God.

BIOGRAPHY OF SAINT-ALOYSIUS GONZAGA

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-91), Italian Jesuit priest, born at Castiglione and educated at the Florentine court of the Medici, in Rome, and at the court of Philip II of Spain. He was the eldest son of the Marquis Ferrante of Castiglione, who served Phillip II of Spain and Tana Santena. In 1579 while staying in the court of the duke of Mantua, where Aloysius's father had become governor of Montserrat, Aloysius developed a painful kidney disease that was to trouble him for the rest of his life. Aloysius renounced his heritage in favour of his brother Ridolpho and on the 25th of November 1585, he presented himself to Father Claudius Acquaviva, General of the Society of Jesus. Aloysius made his vows on the 25th of November 1587 and immediately after, he began his theological studies. In 1591, in his fourth year of theology, a plague broke out in Italy. Though in delicate health, he devoted himself to the care of the sick, but on March 3 of that year, he fell ill to the plague and young Aloysius died on the 21st of June that same year. That day would therefore become his feast day. Saint Aloysius Gonzaga's remains are in the church of Saint Ignazio in Rome. In 1621, Aloysius Gonzaga was beatified by Gregory XV and in 1726, he was canonized by Benedict XIII who declared him patron Saint of young students. Later on, Pius XI would proclaim him patron saint of the Christian youth.

PARISH HISTORY

The Parish of St. Aloysius Gonzaga came into being because of the dedicated hard work of a group of people whose desire came together as a faithful community in their own church. Prior to this, mass was being said each Sunday for the English community in the basement of Saint Jean Marie Vianney Church. The Catholic Women's League had been formed in 1954 and a Parent-Teacher organization started in 1955 and that same year the school board gathered the children of the English community into a school designated for them. On December 20th, 1955, a list of 220 families was submitted to the Archdiocese and His Excellency, Marie Joseph Lemieux, Archbishop of Ottawa under whose guidance Gatineau belonged in those days agreed to the formation of the parish.

In June 1957, Father J.R. Murray was appointed parish priest. The Holy Name Society and Altar Boys Society were also formed, as well as Sodalities and also a teen club. The ground for the new church was blessed on June 15, 1958 amid much pomp and ceremony and the Catholic Women League (C.W.L.) provided one of their often since repeated lunches. The actual building of the church began shortly thereafter.

During the time of construction the faithful held their Sunday masses in Saint Pius X School as this was the school assigned to the English-speaking community. The gymnasium was the site for the masses and for many fund raising events for the new church.

On April 10th, 1959, while on a much deserved vacation in Florida, Father Murray died of a heart attack. However, on April 26th, Father Maurice Egan was appointed and continued the task of overseeing the final construction phase. The building cornerstone was blessed on the 29th of November 1959. After much sweeping, dusting and piling of construction material in the afternoon, the first mass was celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve 1959. In the years that followed, Father Egan worked tirelessly for the good of the parish. His greatest wish was to see the mortgage paid off and in 1975, with interest free loans to the church from the parishioners, it was accomplished. Money raised through the President's Club draws was used to pay these loans back and this was done over the next couple of years.

In 1977, Father Egan introduced a young seminarian named Lomer Rooney. Father Egan retired in 1978 and following his Ordination, Father Lomer was assigned to our parish as the new Pastor. Under his youthful leadership our parish flourished and grew. Father Lomer's guidance led the parish through the difficult times of the late seventies when everyone was questioning everything.

Father Lomer was replaced in 1983 by Father Albert Lefebvre whose quiet spiritualism offered the parishioners a different kind of leadership but an ever continuous guidance towards God. Father Albert celebrated his 50th Anniversary of Ordination during this time with us. He retired in 1992.

Father Don MacLellan came to us in 1992 and introduced new ideas to help us on our Spiritual path. Father Don was an exceptionally gifted speaker. He was reassigned in 1995 and was replaced by Father Oliver Rich. It is in September 1995 that Father Oliver came quietly and gently into our lives and hearts. He remained our Pastor until July 31st, 1998.

On August 1st, 1998 Father Normand Verrier became the seventh Parish Priest of St. Aloysius. Father Norm was not a newcomer to the parish as he had been appointed spiritual advisor to the youth group in 1970 and again as a Deacon in 1972. Father Norm had a special place in his heart for the youth of the parish and, under his guidance, has inspired not only the young people but the entire parish to get involved. Sadly, on the 30th of June 2002, Fr. Norm died after a battle with an illness that restricted him to a bed in the Hull Hospital for months.

Following this tragic loss, Father William Marrevee (Father Bill), who helped the parish during Father Norm's sickness, was appointed pastor of Saint-Aloysius parish and of Saint-Columban mission. During that time, as Father Bill was also pastor of other English parishes (Our Lady of Victory in Buckingham and Saint Malachy in Mayo), he was provided with the assistance of Father Valerian Menezes (Father Val) from India who had came to our parish in September 2000 while doing his doctoral studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Father Val assisted Father Norm and Father Bill with weekday and Sunday masses. Father Val always had a smile on his face and always had time to have a chat. After his studies were complete he returned to Ranipura, Mangalore India in December 2003. Father Peter Emusa, from Nigeria, came a little later as assistant Pastor of Saint-Aloysius parish and stayed till 1994.

In August 2007, although still responsible to coordinate the English parishes in the Gatineau Diocese, Father Bill left our parish and was replaced by Father Gyanprakash Topno from India. Father Gyanprakash Topno (Fr. Gyan) is now our Pastor as well as pastor for the Saint Columban, Our Lady of Victory in Buckingham and Saint Malachy in Mayo.

ST. COLUMBAN

(Last update: October 2008)

OUR PATRON SAINT

Saint Columban was born in Ireland 543AD. In 585, he set out for France with twelve companions and established numerous monasteries in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. St. Columban based his rule on the Love of God and Neighbour. He founded the famous monastery at Bobbio where he later died November 23rd, 615 AD in Italy.

St. Columban's rule, based on Irish monastic teachings, instructs one to have a good conscience, to be tenderhearted, to work hard, serve the sick, deal kindly with sinners, be simple in dress, be wise, learned generous and courteous. We celebrate the feast of Saint Columban on November 23rd.

ST. COLUMBAN MISSION HISTORY

From 1848 to 1899, the people of Quinnville attended St. Francois-de-Sales parish in Pointe-Gatineau. The church was three hours away by horse and buggy over rough roads, the French sermons also provided challenging for the Irishmen. With all these difficulties, the men of Quinnville decided early in 1896 to study the possibility of forming a new parish with a church closer to home and with an English speaking pastor. Land was donated and construction began on 16 July 1899. Three months later the church was built with all the work being donated by parishioners and funds raised through subscription. The church was solemnly blessed on November 5th, 1899, by Most Revered Joseph Thomas Duhamel, Archbishop of Ottawa.

We have come a long way in the past 100 plus years. We have shared our history and priests with both Saint Elizabeth (1899-1980) in Cantley and St. Aloysius in Gatineau since 1980. Although population has declined, many descendants of the founding members remain faithful to their heritage and to St. Columban Mission. We invite you to celebrate and share with us!